Science

Researchers Map Vision in Human Brain

Posted 16 Oct 2012 at 03:27 UTC (updated 16 Oct 2012 at 18:01 UTC) by steve Share This

A University of Pennsylvania news release describes what may be a major breakthough in our understanding of human vision. Scientists at the Perelman School of Medicine have discovered a mathematical description common across all people that maps visual function to brain anatomy. Geoffrey Aguirre notes:

"By measuring brain anatomy and applying an algorithm, we can now accurately predict how the visual world for an individual should be arranged on the surface of the brain. We are already using this advance to study how vision loss changes the organization of the brain."

The researchers used fMRI to measure brain activity of multiple people, identifying the precise relationship between brain folds and visual representation. The general schematic for this relationship was discovered in 1918 by neurologist Gordon Holmes, who reverse-engineered it by mapping blind spots caused by war injuries to patient's brains. The map will be very useful in designing brain-machine interfaces for a visual prosthesis or other applications. It may also offer new insights applicable to machine vision for robots. The full details are currently pay-walled in the paper The retinotopic organization of striate cortex is well predicted by surface topology. However, a nice summary may be found online with the raw data which you can download and run in FreeSurfer, a free software application used for analysis and visualization of brain imaging data.

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